Dennett’s Propositional Attitudes

By KAROLINA WISNIEWSKI ABSTRACT: The following paper will seek to do two things: succinctly outline Dennett’s defense of propositional attitudes as having causal powers over human behaviour using the intentional stance, and subsequently analyze the specific downfalls in his position which render his argument ineffective. Dennett’s wish to validate propositional attitudes stems from the desire to retain a certain degree of scientific certainty without doing away with the language of beliefs, values and intentions. His answer to the body-mind problem is to explain the how abstract sounding phenomena such as intentions are able to affect the physical actions of humans. A critical analysis, it will be … Continue reading Dennett’s Propositional Attitudes

Rorty, Connolly, and the Role of Irony

By MATT FRIBERG ABSTRACT: Despite agreeing on the importance of irony, Richard Rorty and William Connolly differ sharply on its role for the individual, and for society more broadly. That is, Rorty understands irony as of strictly personal use, whereas Connolly bases an entire public realm on ironic discourse. I will, in this paper, analyze each thinker’s views on irony’s ultimate function. That is, I will articulate Rorty’s view of ironist theory as problematic, and will attempt to apply Rorty’s claims regarding the ironist theorist to Connolly’s project. Also, I will attempt to support Rorty’s argument for liberal democracy as … Continue reading Rorty, Connolly, and the Role of Irony

On Particle-Waves, a Mediating Gaze and the Narrative Sequence

This paper works through Gilberto Perez’s theory of film narrative, clarifying his distinction between drama and narrative as relevant to understanding the singular form of cinematic narration employed in Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939). Rather than thinking of film as being of one primary form or another, one should recognize that such terms are primarily of functional value and should not be taken as actual properties of film, and that broadening our terms to include drama and narrative gives us more insight in talking about film and frees us from the ontological commitment of having to posit invisible, effaced narrators in film where there is no evidence.
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Letter from the Editors

For first time visitors, Shane and I would like to welcome you to the online edition of Prometheus, Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Philosophy Journal. Here you will find numerous articles and papers from undergraduate students all over the world addressing some of the fundamental problems concerning matters of existence, knowledge, language, value, mind, and reason. As a discipline, philosophy itself has withstood the test of time, instilling itself as an essential part of helping individuals understand the very nature of reality and the human condition. Prometheus was created with this thought in mind. Most importantly, we understand that philosophy thrives through … Continue reading Letter from the Editors

An Epistemic Problem for Intentional Semantics

By Travis McIntyre Abstract: This paper concerns the concept of reference within the field of semantics. W. V. Quine argues in his Word and Object that the relation between words and the objects they refer to is metaphysically indeterminate; there are no facts in the world which can determine what objects words refer to. This paper refutes this thesis by expanding the available facts for establishing reference from behavioral facts (stimulus meaning) to include mental facts which include peoples‟ intentions (intentional semantics). I go on to point out how this new set of facts does not entirely escape Quine‟s indeterminacy … Continue reading An Epistemic Problem for Intentional Semantics

Nietzsche and Kierkegaard on the Ethical

By Raj N. Patel .. Nietzsche and Kierkegaard are two great thinkers of the 19th century who had numerous points of philosophical intersection. Both had a distaste and suspicion for religious authority and instead emphasized individualism and subjectivity. However, one main area of disagreement between them the conception of the “ethical”: Nietzsche had a great distaste toward a conventional universal moral code of behavior, whereas it is precisely this universal ethic that characterizes Kierkegaard’s “ethical stage of life” which constitutes an important presupposition for his notion of the “religious stage of life”. In this paper, I will explore Kierkegaard and … Continue reading Nietzsche and Kierkegaard on the Ethical

The Possibilities of Imagination in Hannah Arendt’s Thought

By Gary Wang In Hannah Arendt’s earlier work, The Origins of Totalitarianism, imagination is caught by totalitarian ideology leading to a denial of experience and a complicity in evil.[1] In her later work, Eichmann in Jerusalem, she explicitly condemns Eichmann’s “lack of imagination” as evidence of his inability to think and as paradigmatic of her diagnosis of totalitarian evil as banal[2]. In her Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, Arendt’s discussion centers on how imagination is central to the faculty of judgment to possibly resist evil.[3] The relationship between Arendt’s conceptions of imagination hinges upon the existence of a space of … Continue reading The Possibilities of Imagination in Hannah Arendt’s Thought

A Defense of the Extended Mind Thesis

In their article “The Extended Mind” (1998), Andy Clark and David Chalmers introduce a theory of extended cognition. In this paper I explain what extended cognition theories maintain by examining one such theory in particular- namely the Extended Mind thesis (EM), which Clark and Chalmers put forth. Following this, I consider two popular objections raised against EM- one based on concerns about what exactly constitutes a “part” of a cognitive system, and the other based on the intuition that the biological body is what marks the natural boundary between humans and their environments- and provide a defense of EM from each of these objections. Continue reading A Defense of the Extended Mind Thesis

Incommensurability and Scientific Progress

by ETHAN JERZAK Abstract. I aim to resolve a difficulty that has plagued post-Kuhnian philosophy of science. This difficulty stems from a simultaneous commitment to two theses: (1) that successive paradigms are incommensurable to such an extent that they define different puzzles and therefore different worlds, and (2) that each paradigm ‘improves’ on the one it replaces in a non-trivial way. I work through Davidson’s objection to the idea of a conceptual scheme (of which a scientific paradigm is a special case), as well as Kuhn’s response, to get in view a notion of ‘incommensurability’ that admits substantive conceptual differences … Continue reading Incommensurability and Scientific Progress